The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

4350water blog update - The top 10 people/groups who supported the Yes campaign ...

... yet contributed to its failure.

Worth revisiting for a 2009 update.

1. (former) Mayor Di Thorley

Far and away the clear winner. She was at times both the Yes campaign's greatest asset and its greatest weakness.

Her 'you'll drink it or you can buy bottled water' approach to community engagement offended many Toowoomba residents right at the outset of the debate.

She sought to bludgeon her way to a Yes vote win, creating a culture of fear both within the Council and in the broader community. (The Sydney Morning Herald named it her 'take no prisoners' approach to recycled water.)

Unwilling to attend any forum in Toowoomba to discuss community concerns regarding her recycled sewage project. Preferred to spend time at water recycling conferences around Australia preaching to the converted.

Has since had a makeover, made an appearance on ABC's Media Watch and presided over Carnival activities.

2009 - After telling the media she would run again as Mayor in 2008, she backflipped saying she'd promised her children she wouldn't. Long thought to harbour secret plans to leave Toowoomba after the recycled water initiative, she did just that - moving to Tasmania. Now running a pub there. Seems she may have finally sold her Toowoomba house, 2 years after initially advertising it.

2. MP Malcolm Turnbull

Tried his best to coerce Toowoomba into voting in favour of the great recycled sewage experiment.

His 'drink it or you'll get no federal funding' approach to recycled water was appalling.

He sought to rely on Mayor Thorley's scare tactic of Toowoomba running out of water with the added bonus of no federal funding for other alternatives.

Paid a flying visit to Toowoomba which cost countless Yes votes then joked at a Brisbane function that he was making the guests drink Toowoomba recycled water. A number of No campaigners wished he would have returned for another visit prior to 29 July - his visit seemed to be worth at least a couple of percentage points to the No campaign.

Still heading up Water issues for the Federal government - has no current plans to introduce a similar recycled water for drinking scheme into his electorate of Wentworth in Sydney - what ever happened to leading by example?

2009 - Now somewhat embattled Federal opposition leader.

3. (former) Deputy Mayor Joe Ramia

He promised to 'drop a rock' on people who opposed the Mayor's recycled sewage plans.

His aggressive and threatening style left many Toowoomba residents scratching their heads in bewilderment.

He also showed he had never read the Council's NWC funding application (although he wasn't the only one!), giving Toowoomba residents little confidence in his abilities as head of the Council's Water portfolio. Always odd that the head of the Water portfolio is one of Toowoomba's most prolific water users.

Failed to follow through on his promise to resign his Water portfolio if the No vote succeeded.

Still the Deputy Mayor - plans for the 2008 Council elections as yet unknown.

2009 - Only Toowoomba City Council councillor to survive amalgamation election. Now deals with tourism issues and rarely heard from.

4. (former) Premier Peter Beattie

His State government was an early and late supporter of Mayor Thorley's campaign (and largely silent in between).

He gave us quotes such as "It has never been the state government's policy to pump recycled water into dams" and "I repeat: using recycled water for drinking is not my government's policy" and declared that Toowoomba was an experiment and personally he wouldn't drink it.

Still the Premier.

2009 - Forced to resign by Canberra-bound juggernaut Kevin Rudd. Said he wouldn't take a government job, only to quickly backflip and take cushy LA trade commissioner role. Still sniping at his opponents back home from the sidelines.

5. Jeff Nolan

He promised a 20,000 signature petition in favour of drinking recycled sewage which would be tabled in Federal parliament.

He formed the Pure H2O group and set about gathering signatures. He failed to understand any of the previous studies and polls on drinking recycled sewage and his petition quietly died with Pure H2O imploding shortly after. The petition sheets can still be seen gathering dust in the odd doctor's surgery waiting room around Toowoomba.

He also qualifies for writing so many letters to the Chronicle that people really believed that a No vote meant 'no more Jeff Nolan'.

Still teaching. Not known to be requesting that Council make regular deliveries of NEWater to his house for his consumption.

2009 - MIA - no public profile.

6. Kirstie Smolenski

Another member of the Pure H2O group who decided that drinking recycled water was so good for you that she would have a national newspaper photograph her feeding it to her children.

Famously circulated the 'dihydrogen monoxide' email to Yes campaign supporters.

Also known for writing copious letters to the Chronicle. At one point, she claimed that the recycled sewage project would cause Toowoomba property prices to skyrocket, basing her belief on price increases in Orange county real estate. (Interestingly, San Diego real estate prices skyrocketed during they same period after they shelved their recycled sewage project. Perhaps there was another reason for the price increases in California?!)

Still writing letters to the Chronicle and just gave birth to another child - must be something in the water!

2009 - MIA - no public profile. Should probably revise her thoughts on skyrocketing property prices in Orange County, California.

7. Dr Greg Leslie

An early arrival to (and departure from) the Toowoomba debate. He proclaimed that he would let his 5 year old drink the recycled water.

Was Toowoomba City Council's initial golden boy - touted by Council in the Toowoomba media, Council minutes and correspondence as their independent expert. Subsequently shown to be still consulting to his old employer, CH2M Hill, the company most likely to build the recycled sewage facility.

Not known to use the word 'Toowoomba' any more.

2009 - Still messing around with recycled water. Still doesn't use the word 'Toowoomba' in any presentation on recycled water.

8. Drew Hutton and the Greens

Sought to hijack the referendum and turn it into an anti-dam festival.

Recruited people to come to Toowoomba to hand out how-to-vote cards on polling day. Seemed to think that drinking recycled water was the only alternative to building Premier Beattie's dams.

Awaiting next State election.

2009 - Awaiting the next election - as always.

9. Council's Yes campaign team

A team which had $460,000 of ratepayers' funds at its disposal during the referendum period and could do little better than handing out balloons, movie passes, lollies, pizza and soft drink as it tried to convince Toowoomba residents to drink recycled sewage.

Had a habit of visiting schools to scare the children and thought marching the city's children through town was a great way to win votes. Circulated a weekly guide to their upcoming activities which was always fun to read.

Generally disbursed back to other council activities.

2009 - Some shifted to QWC for their failed propaganda campaign. Others now with TRC or moved on elsewhere.

10. Linda Macpherson/CH2M Hill

Paid over $200,000 in consultancy fees and could do little better than reproduce incorrect brochures from the Singapore NEWater facility which showed nothing got through the membranes.

And who could forget the Disneyland photo! Stuff ups like this were free kicks for the opposition.

The CH2M Hill juggernaut continues on its merry way.

2009 - Continuing on its merry way.

And one more for good measure:

11. Jenifer Simpson and the Australian Water Association (AWA)

With her background as an anti-dam lobbyist, Jenifer Simpson provided us with the '6 star rating guide to recycled water' and invented psychiatric disorders such as 'hydro-coprophobia':

"Well, 'coprophobia' is...is actually a real word and it means 'a fear of faeces' so I've put a 'hydro' on the front of it which means 'a fear of wastewater'." (ABC Four Corners).

Known for the odd scare tactic: "Swimming pools, I think, will be a thing of the past. I don't know what the Olympic swimmers are going to do. They'll have to practise in the sea, won't they?" (ABC Four Corners)

And seems somewhat fixated on the terms used to describe recycled sewage - Plunder down under.

Together with the AWA, she organised an 'independent' forum in Toowoomba to tell Toowoomba residents that recycled water was the best option (but no-one seemed willing to discuss the other options). The forum included vote winning statements such as "If Toowoomba doesn't do it [vote in favour of drinking recycled sewage] the Mary River will be dammed".

Believed looking for next target.

2009 - Wrote another misleading picture book, this time with NWC assistance. Swimming pools for Olympic swimmers not extinct yet.

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